One week later and I am still paying for my run. A twinge here, sore calf there, stiff joints. I find the older I get, the longer it takes to get back to some sense of normal afterwards. Even now my knees are making me pay for last weekend's outing.
Whenever I do this run, a lot of things running through my head. With 2.5 hours of running, I usually wind up with lots of interesting nuggets for blog fodder, but not enough for a full blog theme. Sort of a mish-mash of comments/observations from the run.
- Agony of da feet (pain mitigation) - every time I do this run, I always tend to test the boundaries of pain. One year it was my calfs, one year it was chafing of certain body parts, one year it was butt cramps, one year it was a charlie horse. This year it was a back spasm. Never had that one before. Was able to walk it off, but it hurt like hell for a while. I've got to admit that, this being my 6th rodeo, I anticipated the worse. I know what works, what doesn't. This time I pre-loaded the system (Advil) before the run to help mitigate the eventual soreness. I mentioned last year discovering kinesthetic tape - sort of a duct tape for athletes to prevent injuries. This is flexible tape you can use for injuries/muscles to prevent strain. I tried it out last year and it seemed to make a small difference. This year I taped my knees in advance and, despite what my doctor said, it seemed to help. My knees were the one part of that really didn't hurt afterwards. I know it may be voodoo healing, but if it works, why question it? On top of that, I planned ahead and booked an hour on the massage table after the run just to work out the kinks. That really made a difference in my post run recovery. Almost felt human afterwards.
- Recovery - I fully expected to be all stove up after the run, given the lack of preparation for this year's run, so I took Monday off to allow time to recover. Turns out, with massage, I was doing pretty good and could have gone in, but, given my vacation stockpile, I decided to burn it anyway. Took advantage of the day off to finally go see the Hobbit movie while it was in the theater.
- Trail food - I have my system. I try to carb load before the race, but, during the race is altogether a different equation. I always buy some energy gels/gu/shots for the run. These are things you can eat/drink before & during the run to give you a shot of energy during the run. I am not sure if they really helped, but I did get some benefit from them. I kept eating the energy gu packs every 30 minutes or so. They are like concentrated pudding packs and easy to digest while running. They seemed to help, to a point. The energy gels shots are like over sized concentrated gummy bears loaded with quick energy. As Abby noted, some people may think they taste nasty and I would not disagree, but they did seem to keep me focused, so I cannot complain (too much).
- Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink - After 6 years of doing this shtick, I've learned what works for me and what doesn't. Like hydration - along the course, there are multiple points to allow you to rehydrate/refuel. The first one you come across is the Gatorade stations followed by water stations about 50 yards later. I learned a long time ago that I cannot handle my Gatorade while running. Something about it just "sits there" when I drink it on the run. Does not help. When running, stick to plain old water to stay hydrated. Of course, too much water and you will be seeking the nearest porta potty along the route.
- Weather - I cannot help but think how lucky we were this year. I've run in the freezing cold, in relative heat, or, like last year, in a downpour. Really does a number to your pace times. This year was picture perfect. Given the recent winter weather chaos ongoing, I think we really lucked this year. This year's weather could fool someone into thinking that they could pull this off as an annual event.
- Road signs - I always try to keep my eyes and ears open during the run. Most of the time, I zone out with my iPod and listen to the running playlist I have organized. I tend to focus inward and miss some of the signs and hoopla on the sidelines. I am always amazed/impressed with the amount of support we get along the route. Groups, families, individuals. People turn out in droves. The crazier the group, the funnier the signs. Some of the ones that I recall from this year that caught my eye:
- Worse. Parade. Ever.
- Run like there's a zombie after you
- Blisters are for wussies.
- Who needs toenails?
- And I thought that NASCAR was boring.
- Side show - Along with the various signs and music along the route, there a number of groups that organize as support to encourage runners. From handing out oranges and bananas and such, to giving out sticks of Vaseline, hula dancers to simply doing high fives to runners, all seemed to help make it run a bit easier. This year I passed by one tent giving out cups of beer from the local brewer and I even passed one group giving out samples of bacon. Almost bit on that one but I wasn't sure what beer and bacon would do to the stomach at that point.
All in all, I have no real complaints about this year's run. Yea, I should have been better prepared, but I was able to pull another rabbit out of the hat and make it across the finish line upright. Thanks for everyone's support! Who knows, I might be stupid enough to do it one more time. After all, 7 is a lucky number, right?